tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 23, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PDT
we already had that program in place, but it's not as widely known as it needs to be and not as many young people are eligible for it as we want them to be. so we're going to work to improve on that front. bottom line is, we need to stop taking the same business as usual approach when it comes to college education. not all the reforms that we're proposing are going to be popular. i mean there are some who are benefitting from the status quo. there will be some resistance. there's going to have to be a broad-based conversation, but part of our goal here is to stir a conversation because the current path that we're on is unsustainable. and it's my basic belief and i suspect the belief of most people here, higher education shouldn't be a luxury. it's an economic necessity in this knowledge-based economy. and we want to make sure that every family in america can afford it. so i'm interested. if you guys have other ideas --
[ applause ] if you have other ideas about things that we should be looking at, we want to hear them, and that's part of the purpose of this town hall discussion. i'm interested in hearing your stories, getting your questions, and this will be a pretty informal affair. well, as informal as it gets when the president comes and there are a bunch of cameras everywhere. so with that, i'd just like to start the discussion. and what i'm going to do is i'm just going to call on folks, just raise your hand. i would ask you to stand up, introduce yourself. there are people with mikes, and they'll bring the mike to you and i'm going to go girl, boy, girl, boy, to make sure that it's fair. all right? so we'll start with this young lady right here in the striped top.
>> thank you. it's an honor to have you here today. >> hold on a second. >> here we go. >> thank you. it's an honor to have you here today, mr. president. my name is nicole rohan from the decker school of nursing here, which is an outstanding school of nursing that has excellent outcomes. my question today is because advanced practice nurses, primarily nurse practitioners and nurse midwives have such an outstanding reputation, we have good outcomes and the affordable care act is ready to be rolled out soon. nurse practitioners and advanced practice nurses are in an excellent position to really serve vulnerable populations and people who don't have care. i'm wondering if there's any provisions within your educational act that would support health care workers and nurse practitioners to create a sustainable workforce that would be tiebl support caring for people as we roll out the affordable care act. >> it is a great question. now, first of all, let me without buttering you up, i love
nurses. michelle and i have been blessed, we haven't been sick too much, knock on wood. but every interaction we've had at the hospital, doctors are wonderful and we appreciate them, but i know when malia and sasha were being born, we spent 90% of the time with the nurses and 10% with the ob/gyn. when my grandmother got sick and was passing away at the end, it was nurses who were caring for them and incredibly compassionate but also a professional way. and you're absolutely right, that one of the keys to reducing our health care costs overall is recognizing the incredible value of advanced practice nurses and giving them more responsibilities, because there's a lot of stuff they can do in a way that, frankly, is cheaper than having a doctor do it. but the outcomes are just as
good. the challenge we have is we still have a nursing shortage in too many parts of the country. my understanding, you probably know this better than i do, part of the problem is, is that too many professors of nursing or instructors in nursing are getting paid less than actual nurses. so what ends up happening is we don't have enough slots in some of the nursing schools. that may not be true here, but there are parts of the country where that's true. so we have to upgrade a little bit the schools of nursing and make sure that they're properly resourced so that we have enough instructors. and in fact as part of the affordable care act, one of the things that we thought about was how are we going to expand and improve the number of nurses and making sure that they can actually finance their educations. and so there are some special
programs for nurses who are committing themselves, as well as doctors who are committing themselves to serving in underserved communities, and we will be happy to get that information to the school of nursing here. one other element to this that i think is really interesting, we've been spending a lot of time thinking about making sure that our veterans coming back from iraq and afghanistan are getting the opportunities they need. so we instituted something called the post-9/11 g.i. bill that provides the same kind of support that my grandfather got when he came back from world war ii. and the young people who have served in our armed forces just do extraordinary work. one of the problems, though, is that they don't always get credit for the skills that they already possess when they come home. so one -- and we've got a gentleman here who's a veteran. and one great example actually is in the medical profession.
when you get army medics coming back who served in the worst possible circumstances, out in theater, having to make life-or-death decisions, i met a young man up in minnesota. he had come back, wanted to continue to pursue his career and become a professional nurse and he was having to start from scratch taking the equivalent of nursing 101. and what we're trying to do is to make sure that states and institutions of higher learning recognize some of the skills because as we bring more and more of our veterans home, we'll be ending the war in afghanistan by the end of next year, we want to make sure that those folks have the opportunity to succeed here in america. great question, though. all right. it's a guy's turn. right here. yeah. hold on, let's get a mike all the way to the back.
>> hello, mr. president. i'm glad for you to come to binghamton university. i'm the director of rainbow pride union here, the largest lbgt organization on campus. my main concern is that i know a lot of stories of people who are lbgt who come out to their parents and their parents are supporting them financially for college and when they come out, their parents cut out that support. i was wondering if maybe in the future part of your affordability for college would be able to include lbgt people. >> well, first of all, the programs that we have in place don't discriminate and shouldn't discriminate, and the good news is, i think the phenomenon that you just described is likely to happen less and less and less with each successive year. think about the incredible changes that have been made just over the last decade.
doma is gone. don't ask, don't tell is gone. more importantly, people's hearts and minds have chamber of commerced -- changed and i think that's reflective of parents as well. i think more and more what we recognize is that just as we judge people on -- should judge people on the basis of their character and not their color or religion or gender, the same is true for their sexual orientation. so i don't suspect that we'll have special laws pertaining to young people who were cut off from support by their parents because their parents hadn't gotten to the place i think they should be when it comes to loving and supporting their kids regardless of who they are, but we are going to make sure that all young people get the support
that they need so that if their parents aren't willing to provide them support and they're functionally independent, that they're still able to go to college and succeed. all right? right here in the obama t-shirt. you know, so if you -- here's a general rule in the presidential town hall. if you want to get called on, wear the president's face on your shirt. >> good afternoon, president obama. my name is ivana smith. i am a graduate student in the college of community and public affairs. i study eastern affairs administration w that being said, as we are all students, we know how vital it is to have a good foundation in your education. how does your administration plan to address the major budget cuts that are happening with headstart schools around the u.s.? >> well, that's a great question and this will be a major topic over the next several months.
first of all, i want to expand early childhood education so that it is accessible for every young person in america. and i talked about this -- i talked about this in my state of the union address. it is just common sense. we know, study after study has shown that the biggest bang for the buck that we get when it comes to education is to invest early. if we get 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds well prepared when they start school, that momentum continues. if they start behind, too often they stay behind. kids are resilient, they can make up for some tough stuff early on in life, but it's a lot harder for them an if we get them young. in fact studies have shown
there's some very smart programs out there where you identify low income single moms in the maternity ward. and nurses talk to them immediately not just about the health of their child but also parenting and create a little packet with some books and toys and talk about engagement and expanding vocabulary. all that can make a difference. and high quality, early childhood education can continue that process so that by the time the kid starts school, they know their colors, they know their letters, they're ready to go. now, unfortunately right now the federal budget generally has been a political football in washington. partly this came out of the financial crisis. we had a terrible crisis. we had to immediately pump money into the system to prevent a great depression, so we cut
taxes for middle class families, we initiated programs to rebuild our roads and our bridges, we helped states so they won't have to layoff as many teachers and firefighters and police officers, and that's part of the reason why we avoided a depression, although we still had a terrible recession. but the combination of increased spending and less revenue meant that the deficit went up. and by the time the republicans took over the house in 2011, they had made this a major issue. and understandably a lot of families said we're having to tighten our belts, the federal government should too. although part of what you want the federal government to do when everyone else is having a hard time is to make sure that you're providing additional support. as the economy has improved, the deficit has gone down. it's dropped at the fastest rate in 60 years. i want to repeat that because a lot of people think if you ask
the average person what's happening with the deficit, they'd tell you it's going up. the deficit has been cut in half since 2009 and is on a downward trajectory. and it's going down faster than any time since world war ii. so we don't have a problem in terms of spending on education. we don't have a problem when it comes to spending on research and development. we do have a long-term problem that has to do with our health care programs, medicare and medicaid. the good news is, is that in part because of the affordable care act, obama care, costs have actually gone down -- health care inflation has gone down to the slowest rate that we've seen in a long time. so we're starting to get health care costs under control. we'll still have to make some modifications when it comes to our long-term entitlement
programs so they're here for young people here when they're ready for retirement, but we don't have an urgent deficit crisis. the only crisis we have is one that's manufactured in washington, and it's ideological. and the basic notion is, is that we shouldn't be helping people get health care and we shouldn't be helping kids who can't help themselves and whose parents are underresourced, we shouldn't be helping them get a leg up. and so some of the proposals we've seen now are talking about even deeper cuts in programs like headstart, even deeper cuts in education support, even deeper cuts in basic science and research. and that's like eating your corn seed. you know, it's like being penny wise and pound foolish, because
if young people aren't succeeding, if we're not spending on research and maintaining our technological edge, if we're not upgrading our roads and our bridges and our transportation systems and our infrastructure, all things that we can afford to do right now and should be doing right now and would put people to work right now, if we don't do those things, then 20 years from now, 30 years from now, we will have fallen further and further behind. so when we get back to washington, when congress gets back to washington, this is going to be a major debate. it's the same debate we've been having for the last two years. the difference is now, deficits are already coming down. what we should really be thinking about is how do we grow an economy so that we're creating a growing, thriving middle class and we're creating more ladders of opportunity for people willing to work hard to get in the middle class. and my position is going to be that we can have a budget that
is sensible, that doesn't spend on programs that don't work, but does spend wisely on those things that are going to help ordinary people succeed. all right. good. let's see, it is a gentleman's turn. this gentleman right here, he's had his hand up for a while. you have a little cheering section there. >> i'm a faculty member of the computer science department. i'm very excited and encouraged by your plan on the affordability. my question is related about the quality of future higher education. as you know, many are trying their best to provide the best value by doing better with less, but the challenges are real. it's getting tougher and tougher as the budget cuts are getting tougher and tougher. so my question is what your administration will do to ensure
the best american universities remains to be the best in the world in the 21st century. thank you. >> well, first of all, what's really important is to make sure that we're supporting great teachers. and since you got an applause line, you must be a pretty good one. and i don't think that there is a conflict between quality and paying attention to costs as it's affecting students. now, i mentioned earlier one of the big problems that we've seen in public universities is a diminished level of support from states, state legislatures. and part of what we're going to try to do is to provide more incentives to states to boost the support that they're giving to colleges and universities.
traditionally, when you think of the great state university systems, it was because those states understood if we invest in our people, we'll have a better trained workforce, which means companies will want to locate here, which creates a virtuous cycle and everybody benefits. but starting, let's say, 15 years ago, 20 years ago, you saw a trend in which state legislatures who were trying to balance their budgets kept on cutting support to state education. what happened was that -- and i don't know whether this is true, mr. president, for suny, but around the country on average what you've seen is a drop from about 46% of the revenues of a public college coming from states down to about 25%. it's almost been cut in half. and essentially the only way these schools have figured to make it up is to charge higher
tuition. so states have to do their jobs. but what is true also, though, is that universities and faculty need to come up with ways to also cut costs while maintaining quality, because that's what we're having to do throughout our economy. and sometimes when i talk to college professors -- and keep in mind, i taught in a law school for ten years, so i'm very sympathetic to the spirit of inquiry and the importance of not just looking at xs and os and numbers when it comes to measuring colleges. but what i also know is, is that there are ways we can save money that would not diminish quality.
this is probably controversial to say, but what the heck. i'm in my second term so i can say it. you know, i believe, for example, that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years, because by the third year -- in the first two years, young people are learning in the classroom. the third year they'd be better off clerking or practicing in a firm, even if they weren't getting paid that much, but that step alone would reduce the cost for the student. now, the question is can law students -- can law schools maintain quality and keep good professors and sustain themselves without that third year. my suspicion is, is that if they thought creatively about it, they probably could. now, if that's true at a graduate level, there are probably some things that we could do at the undergraduate level as well. that's not to suggest that there
aren't some real problems. colleges, for example, they have got health care costs like everybody else. personnel is one of the most important -- it's the biggest cost you've got. and if health care costs to provide insurance for your employees is going up as fast as it's been going up, that affects folks. so our idea is not just to have some cookie cutter approach that doesn't take quality into account. the idea is understanding we've got to maintain high quality, are there ways that we can reorganization schools, use technology, think about what works, so that overall we're creating a better value for the student? and one of the best things that we could do for students is to make sure that they graduate in a more timely fashion. and, you know, unfortunately too many young people go to schools
where they're not getting the kind of support and advice on the front end that they need and they drift and four years, five years, six years into it, they have got a bunch of credits, but it all doesn't result in actual graduation. and then they get discouraged. and that's an area where we know we can be making improvement as well. okay? and if you've got any other ideas, let me know. all right. okay. let's get a young person in here. right there. yeah. >> welcome to binghamton. >> thanks. >> president obama. i'm camison, i'm a doctoral student here as well as a writer instructor at syracuse university. i'm interested in the giving of federal funds to students who are going to for-profit colleges or colleges i might even call
predatory. i'm very conflicted about this issue and so i'd like to hear your insight. thank you. >> well, you probably know more about it than i do, since you've written about it, but let me describe for the audience what the challenge is. for-profit institutions in a lot of sectors of our lives obviously is the cornerstone of our economy, and we want to encourage entrepreneurship and new ideas and new approaches and new ways of doing things. so i'm not against for-profit institutions generally, but what you're absolutely right about is, is that there have been some schools that are notorious for getting students in, getting a bunch of grant money, having those students take out a lot of loans, making big profits, but
having really low graduation rates. students aren't getting what they need to be prepared for a particular field. they get out of these for-profit schools loaded down with enormous debt. they can't find a job. they default. the taxpayer ends up holding the bag. their credit is ruined. and the for-profit institution is making out like a bandit. that's a problem. i was mentioning veterans earlier. soldiers and sailors and marines and coast guardsmen, they have been preyed upon very badly by some of these for-profit institutions. and we actually created a special task force inside our consumer advocate protection organization that we set up just to look out for members of the armed forces who were being
manipulated, because what happened was these for-profit schools saw this post-9/11 g.i. bill, there was a whole bunch of money that the federal government was committed to making sure that our veterans got a good education, and they started advertising to these young people, signing them up, getting them to take out a bunch of loans, but they weren't delivering a good product. this goes to then the point i made earlier about how we can rate schools. we're going to spend some time over the course of the next year talking to everybody. talking to university professors, talking to faculty members, talking to students, talking to families. but if we can define some basic parameters of what's a good value, then it will allow us more effectively to police schools, whether they're for-profit or not for profit because there's some not-for-profit schools, traditional schools, that have higher default rates among their graduates than graduation rates, and be able to say to them,
look, either you guys step up and improve or you're not going to benefit from federal dollars, because there are a bunch of schools like this one that are doing a good job and we don't want money being funneled to schools that aren't doing a good job, we want to encourage students to be smart shoppers, to be good consumers. so there are probably more problems in the for-profit sector on this than there are in the traditional not-for-profit colleges, universities and technical schools, but it's a problem across the board. the way to solve it is to make sure that we're -- we've got ways to measure what's happening and we can weed out some of the folks that are engaging in bad practices. great question. all right. this corner of the room has been neglected, so the gentleman right there, right on the corner there. yeah.
>> thank you for taking the time to visit binghamton university. i'm a student of binghamton university from turkey and i want to ask something about international students. most of my friends' families have been facing hardships to support them financially. for example, two turkish equals one american dollar. this situation is getting more important for us. we think that the most reason is the high level of payment. what do you think and do you have any thing to give out. thank you. >> first of all, we're glad you're here and we hope you're having a wonderful experience.
one of the great things about american universities is they are magnets for talent from around the world. and that has enriched us immeasurably. it enriches us in part because students who come here and study and excel may end up staying here and working and starting businesses, and that's always been part of the american experience. smart, striving immigrants coming in here and succeeding. that makes everybody better off, which is part of the reason why we've got to get immigration reform done so that if we're taking the time to train a great computer scientist or engineer or entrepreneur, we're not then just sending them back to their country. let's invite them if they want to stay to succeed here and start jobs here and create businesses here.
now, obviously when it comes to federal grants, loans, support, subsidies that we provide, those are for our citizens. you know, a lot of americans are having a tough time affording college as we talked about, so we can't spread it too thin. what we can do, though, is to make sure that if tuition is reasonable for all students who enroll, then it makes it easier for international students to come and study here as well. so all of the things that i talked about before apply to foreign students as well as american students. we need to make sure that college is affordable, that it's a good value. the good news is that there are schools out there that are doing a great job already. we just need to make sure that
we're duplicating some of those best practices across the country. all right. who's next? let's see. it's a young lady's turn, isn't it? okay. go ahead, right there, in the red -- or orange. >> my name is ann bailey, and i am a faculty member in the history and african studies department here and i teach african-american history. tomorrow i'm going to the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. and i'm going, and i'm going with my son, because i'm here, as you said, because of a good education and that good education came -- became possible because of that faith-inspired movement that really reached such an important milestone 50 years ago. and i'm so grateful for the fact that i had that opportunity and
that my son and that these young people will have these opportunities. but i still kind of wonder where we are now in terms of education and civil rights. have we -- where do you think we are? what do we need to do to kind of make sure that it is education for all, including underrepresented groups? that's just my question. >> you know, 50 years after the march on washington and the "i have a dream" speech, obviously we've made enormous strides. i'm a testament to it, you're a testament to it. the diversity of this room and the students who are here is a testimony to it. and that impulse towards making sure everybody gets a fair shot
is one that found expression in the civil rights movement, but then spread to include latinos and immigrants and gays and lesbians and, you know, what's wonderful to watch is that the younger generation seems -- each generation seems wiser in terms of wanting to treat people fairly and do the right thing and not discriminate. and that's a great victory that we should all be very proud of. on the other hand, i think what we've also seen is that the legacy of discrimination, slavery, jim crow, has meant that some of the institutional barriers for success for a lot of groups still exist.
african-american poverty in this country is still significantly higher than other groups. the same is true for latinos. the same is true for native americans. and even if there weren't active discrimination taking place right now, and, you know, obviously we know that some discrimination still exists, although nothing like what existed 50 years ago. but let's assume that we eliminated all the discrimination magically with a wand and everybody had goodness in their heart, you'd still have a situation in which there are a lot of folks who were poor and whose families have become dysfunctional because of a long legacy of poverty. and live in neighborhoods that are run down and schools that are underfunded and don't have a strong property tax base.
it would still be harder for young people born into those communities to succeed than those who were born elsewhere. so if in fact that's the case, and that is what i believe, then it's in all of our interests to make sure that we are putting in place smart policies to give those communities a lift and to create ladders so that young people in those communities can succeed. well, what works? we've already talked about what works. early childhood education works. we know that can make a difference. it's not going to solve every problem, but it can help level the playing field for kids. early in life. they're still going to have to work hard. not everybody is going to succeed. but they'll have a better chance
if we put those things in place. making college affordable. that makes a difference. because we know in part because of the legacy of discrimination that communities of color have less wealth. they have less wealth, it means that mom and dad have a more difficult time financing college. well, you know, we should make sure that every young person, regardless of their color, can access a college education. i think -- i think the biggest challenge we have is not that we don't know what policies work, it's getting our politics right. because part of what's happened over the last several decades is because times have been tough, because wages and incomes for everybody have not been going up, everybody is pretty anxious about what's happening in their lives and what might happen for
their kids, and so they get worried that, well, if we're helping people in poverty, that must be hurting me somehow. it's taking something away from me. and part of what i think we have to understand is that america has always been most successful, we've always grown fastest and everybody's incomes have gone up fastest when our economic growth is broad based. not just when a few people are doing well at the top, but when everybody is doing well. and so if working people and folks who were struggling, whether they're white, black, hispanic, asian, native american, disabled, lgbt, if working folks join together around common principles and policies that will help lift
everybody, then everybody will be better off. including, by the way, the folks at the top, because when the economy is growing and people have jobs and people are seeing better incomes, they go out and they shop more and that means businesses are doing better and you buy a new ipod and apple is happy and shareholders are pleased. but unfortunately we've got a politics sometimes that divides instead of bringing people together. and we've seen that over the last couple of years. the tendency to suggest somehow that government is taking something from you and giving it to somebody else and your problems will be solved if we just ignore them, or don't help them. and that, i think, is something that we have to constantly struggle against, whether we're
black or white or whatever color we are. all right? thank you. how much time have we got? i want to make sure that i get a couple more questions in here. two more. we'll make it three. we'll make it three. this gentleman right here in the front. we've got a mike right here. >> thank you, mr. president. my name is adam flint. i work currently at cooperative extension but i've been connected to this institution since 1966. i want to tell you about the broom energy conservation corps where we are educating, training and also employing binge hamilton university graduates and current students to really take the vision that kennedy and others advanced of service to the problems of the community and to the country. and a cooperative extension, our energy corps students are helping people who could not benefit from energy efficiency.
they're helping getting people employed with local home performance contractors. we could do so much more if it were possible for programs like ours across the country to be able to know that we're going to be here in 2014, which we don't right now. and so i guess we've been in discussions with harvey and with many of the people in this room, with matt ryan, with many of the senior binghamton university folks, and we'd really like to see coming out of washington some good news about funding for the green economy for the future, and for our ability to give a future to our children that right now i'm doubtful about. you have two girls, i've got two girls, and this is the last century of fossil fuels. so we've got to make it happen. with this energy corps, we could move to a food corps and on and on and on. i've said enough. i'm afraid it's one of the family business to say too much and i'm going to shut up and listen to the wisdom that i hope you will bring to my question.
>> as you indicated in your remar remarks, we are going to have to prepare for a different energy future than the one we have right now. now, we're producing traditional energy, faossil fuels, at recor levels. and we've actually achieved or are on the verge of achieving, about as close as you can get to energy independence as america is going to see. natural gas, oil, all that stuff is going up. in some cases, what you've seen is that, for example, transitional fuels, like natural gas, have replaced coal, which temporarily are reducing greenhouse gases. but the bottom line is those are
still finite resources. climate change is real. the planet is getting warmer. and you've got several billion chinese, indians, africans and others who also want cars, refrigerators, electricity. as they go through their development cycle, the planet cannot sustain the same kinds of energy use as we have right now. so we're going to have to make a shift. that's why when i came into office we made record investments in green energy. and that's why i think it's critical for us to invest in research and development around clean energy. and that's why it sounds like programs like yours need to take advantage of technologies that already exist. we're going to have to invent some new technologies to solve
all of our energy problems. but we know, for example, the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency. we know that if we design our schools, homes, hospitals more efficiently that as a country we could probably cut our power usage by 20%, 25%, 30%, with existing technologies, and without lowering our standard of living. and, by the way, we can put a whole bunch of folks to work doing it right now. we could gather up a whole bunch of young people here in this community, train them for insulation, for energy efficient construction, and redo a whole bunch of buildings and institutions right here and eventually it would pay for
itself. so it's a win-win across the board. unfortunately, what we've seen too often in congress is that the fossil fuel industries tend to be very influential, let's put it that way, on the energy committees in congress. and they tend not to be particularly sympathetic to alternative energy strategies. and in some cases we've actually been criticized that it's a socialist plot that's restri restricting your freedom for us to encourage energy-efficient light bulbs, for example. i never understood that. but you hear those arguments. go on the web and people will be decrying how simple stuff that we're doing like trying to set up regulations to make appliances more energy efficient, which saves consumers
money and is good for our environment, is somehow restricting america's liberty and violates the constitution. so a lot of our job is to educate the public as to why this can be good for them in a very narrow self-interested way. this is not pie in the sky. this is not tree hugging, sprout eating university professors. this is a -- you know, this is a practical, hard-headed, smart, business savvy approach to how we deal with energy. and we should be investing in it, encouraging it and expanding it. so i budgeted for it. i will fight for it. but just as i will be advocating and fighting for headstart or increases in our science and
technology funding, the challenge is going to be that my friends in the other party right now in congress seem less interested in actual governing and taking practical strategies and seem more interested in trying to placate their base or scoring political points. or they're worried about primaries in the upcoming election. that can't be how we run a country. that's not responsible leadership. and my hope is, is that we'll see a different attitude when we get back. but we'll only see a different attitude if the public pushes folks in a different direction. ultimately what has an impact on politicians is votes. and that influence is not -- it can't just come from districts that are strongly democratic.
we need voices in republican districts to say this is a smart thing to do. and we can -- and, by the way, businesses can make money doing it and people can get jobs doing it. it's just sensible. and is good, by the way, for our national security because those countries that control the energy source of the future, they're the ones that are going to be in a position to succeed economically. all right. i've got time for a couple more. yes, right here. >> good afternoon, mr. president. my name is lauren, i'm an integrative neuroscience major. >> that sounds very impressive. what was that again? >> integrative neuroscience. >> so explain that to me. it has something to do with the brain and nerves. >> it's a mix between psychology and biology. >> okay. it's not as impressive as you
think. >> no, it's very impressive. come on. absolutely. anyway, what's the question? >> my question today is about financial aid. currently, financial aid eligibility is based on or heavily based on students' parents' income. now, there are many middle class families that send their students to state schools like binghamton who live in high-cost regions such as new york city. now, do you think it's possible for the financial aid formula to include the living costs of the region that applicants live in? >> you know, it's an interesting question and sounds like it's got some sympathy. what's absolutely true is that what it means to be middle class in new york is going to be different than what it means to be middle class in wyoming. just in terms of how far your dollar goes. and i think it is a relevant
question. it is a challenging problem because if you start getting into calibrating costs of living, just in a state like new york, a big state that has such diversity in terms of cost of living, then it might get so complicated that it would be difficult to administer. but i -- why don't i just say this. i think it is an important question and i'm going to talk to secretary arne duncan about it and find out what kind of research and work we've done on that issue to see if we can potentially make a difference. now, what one -- one way of handling this would not be at the federal level but potentially at the state level, so you could manage something at the state level where people may
have a better sense of the differences in cost of living in a state and say we'll make some adjustments for students who are coming from higher cost areas versus lower cost areas. that might be easier to do than to try to administer it at the federal level from washington for all 50 states. but i'll check with the department of education. and i'll make sure my team gets your e-mail so that you get a personal answer from the secretary. all right? okay. all right. i've got one last question. i want to make sure it's a student. are you a student? >> maybe. >> maybe doesn't count. if he said maybe -- >> i am. >> you are? okay. this young man right here.
i just wanted to make sure. he might have been a young-looking professor. >> mr. president, i'm danny, a student here. my question is you spoke upon increasing financial aid for college students. however, i feel that with the competitive job market, a bachelor's would not be enough to secure a job. my question is will any of these funds go towards grad school programs or strictly limited to undergraduation education? >> first of all, a good undergraduate education means you are much more employable and you're much more likely to get a job. each additional chunk of education that you get, if done well, if you're getting good value, is going to enhance your marketability. we see that in the statistics.
that's not just, you know, talk. fact is, the average american who has more than a -- a college education or greater is a third less likely to be unemployed than somebody who just graduated from high school. so don't underestimate the power of an undergraduate education. it can make a difference. now, what's true is that if you, for example, in computer sciences, want to get a master's in computer science or ph.d. in computer science, presumably that'll make you even more marketable. we want to make sure that financial aid is also available for graduate students. you know, the way programs currently exist, that financial aid does exist, although typically you get fewer
subsidies and a less favorable interest rate for graduate education. we're probably not going to be able to completely solve that. here's the reason why. i got a lot of scholarships and grant money for my undergraduate education, so i didn't have a lot of debt when i got out. i then decided to go to law school. and i went to a very good law school that was very expensive. most of my debt when i graduated was from law school. i had about $60,000 worth of debt. but the truth was, i was able to, if i wanted to at least, earn so much money coming out of law school that i really didn't need a subsidy. i could pay it back. it took me a little longer to pay back than some of my friends because i went into public service. i didn't try to maximize my income. but if i had been a partner at a law firm pulling down half a
million dollars a year, there's no reason why i should necessarily have gotten a subsidy for that. the one area where i think we can make a big difference goes back to the very first question that was asked of me when it came to schools of nursing. across the board in graduate school, what we want to do is to provide incentives for folks who need specialized education but are willing to give back something to the community, to the country, doctors who are willing to serve in underserved communities, nursing willing to serve in underserved communities, lawyers who are willing to work in the state's attorneys office or as a public defender, right. so the more we can do around programs for graduate studies where, you know, we say to you, if you're willing to commit to five years working in a place that doesn't have a doctor and
you're studying to be a doctor, we're going to forgive you a bunch of those loans. i'd like to see more programs like that, and i've asked the secretary of education to see how we can make those more accessible to more students. all right? well, listen, everybody. this has been a great conversation. and -- [ applause ] let me just say that you will be hearing more about this debate over the course of the next year. we will be talking to your university president. we'll be talking to the chancellor of the entire system. we'll be talking to faculty. we'll be talking to students. if you have ideas or questions that were not somehow addressed, then we'd like to hear from you. you know, go to whitehouse.gov.
there's a whole section where we can get comments, ideas, and i promise you we actually pay attention when you guys raise questions. for those of you who are still sorting out student aid, if you're still in high school, for example, and you're thinking about going to college and you don't know exactly what makes sense for you, we do have a website called studentaid.gov. >> you've been watching the president from binghamton university speaking out in a town hall on college affordability. while we've been listening to the president, there's other breaking news we want to update you about coming to us from texas today. we have now learned that the u.s. army major nidal hasan has been found guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of soldiers that took place at ft. hood, texas, in 2009. the court martial panel, we have learned, also found hasan guilty of 32 separate counts of
premeditated attempted murder in the wounding of soldiers there. he has said he opened fire on fellow soldiers there to protect muslims at the other end of the world. you've been watching a special edition of "andrea mitchell reports." we're going to have more on that hasan story from our colleague mark potter, who's in texas coming up. andrea, by the way, is back with us here in this seat on monday. remember to follow the show online and on twitter @mitchellreporters. be sure to tune in for special coverage of the march on washington. we're going to be live from the national mall all day tomorrow. my colleague mara schiavocampo is coming up next on "news nation." thanks for joining us. e announc] made just a little sweeter... because all these whole grains aren't healthy unless you actually eat them ♪ multigrain cheerios. also available in delicious peanut butter. healthy never tasted so sweet. [ female announcer ] only aveeno daily moisturizing lotion has an active naturals oat formula that creates a moisture reserve
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premeditated murder in the 2009 shooting that left 13 people dead and 32 injured. he now faces a possible death sentence. nbc's mark potter joins me live now from ft. hood, texas. mark, good afternoon. what can you tell us about this verdict? >> reporter: well, hi, mara. that verdict came after about seven hours of deliberations by the u.s. army jury panel. as you said, they found nidal hasan guilty of all charges. they reached that verdict unanimously. he was found guilty of 13 counts of premeditated murder, 32 counts of premeditated attempted murder. hasan showed no signs of emotion in the courtroom. family members were there. they were silent, as instructed by the judge, but some of them were in tears. hasan, who never offered up a defense, never gave a closing statement, now faces a sentencing hearing beginning here at ft. hood on monday at 9:00 a.m.